I played 2 other games in the competition. One was against a weaker player who is improving quickly, the other was against the 13 yr old opponent I lost to in my post ‘A Missed Opportunity’. This game was after my ‘Slowing Down’ game that I recently posted about and I was playing more slowly and deliberately. My annotation comes after analysing the game with my son’s chess teacher.
Later computer analysis shows this to be a good game but my moves 33 through 36 were all bad and I was lucky that black didn’t play 36. …Kg7
Of course I would have liked to have won but my opponent was rated 1580+ and my rating is at 1315 (down from my opening rating of 1370) so I felt I played well. After the game I was walking past my opponent who was playing on an iPad surrounded by his friends and he asked me ‘How I got so good?’. He was genuinely surprised that I played so well in his game and in my games against a couple of his friends. I thought ‘what a polite boy’ but I was happy with my play in the competition, I had good chances in all my games and I felt in the zone. To cap it off I came away with a cash prize for my rating group and the person giving away the prizes remarked that it was good to see an adult win! (Kids ratings are often undervalued because they improve quickly – consequently they usually win the lower rating group prizes). Hopefully I can continue to play well and start to minimise my blunders and pounce on other peoples mistakes.
I enjoy playing 1.e4 as white because it often leads to a fairly open game. Often, however, people respond with the Sicilian 1. …c5 and, if the opponent castles on the kingside, it seems to close things up a bit and I end up enjoying the game less. So I was thrilled to see a video on chess.com that had an alternative and ‘bonkers’ approach to the Sicilian, an approach that quickly throws the black player off. The video was made by a funny Grand Master called Simon Williams whose tastes in play I like – attacking, romantic play.
In the video GM Williams advocates 2.a3! with the view to a later b4 push to destabilise blacks c5 pawn. When whites a and b pawns are traded for blacks c5 pawn. GM williams offers convincing arguments for good counterplay.
I saw this video just in time for my ICCF game against Germany. I will annotate the game as it happens.
I received my newsletter from the Canterbury Junior Chess Club and there was a report about the WYO competition in Hungary. Australia are doing well and it sounds like they’re enjoying the trip. They also came away with 3 Brilliancy prizes! In round four Australia’s Jack Puccini won one against an opponent rated better than him in a Sicilian, in round six Zachary Loh created brilliancy in the French Defense (Tarrash) and in round nine fellow Canterbury chess member Max Chew Lee won another brilliancy with a central gambit (Danish?). Here they are bellow with the comments that I found from the tournament website.
I’ve just started playing in another weekly tournament where one game is played per week in a seven round Swiss format. Every adult that turned up, and who I have played with in the past, has beaten me so I don’t expect to do well. Having said that I have enjoyed all my previous games with them and I am looking forward to some good games that will teach me something. There were some juniors there too and I imagine they’ll be tough competitors too.
This afternoon’s game was with an adult with whom I had a very erratic game with previously. This was mainly because I kept attacking without worrying about what he was doing. In the end my attack, which often appeared suicidal, didn’t work and I lost that game. Today’s game was better and more considered but it did follow a similar pattern and the middlegame was where the trouble lay.
The following game analysis was written before a computer evaluation. After writing the analysis I ran the game through the chess.com engine. I have since added whether the computer sees the move as a blunder (??), a mistake (?) or an inaccuracy (?!) in parenthesis. At the foot of the post I have appended the full computer analysis.
Going through the game, and re-reading what I have just posted it is clear that my biggest problem is a lack of concrete calculation. There are a number of choices that I made that I was uncertain about and that I moved based on gut feelings. My Rook moves at move numbers 21 and 23 for instance. I hope to recognise these moments better in future and change my thinking from intuitive position based assessment to logical concrete assessments. I also haven’t yet started to work through my tactics and problem books and I must.
Round two of the weekly competition saw me getting thrashed by a player rated over 2100. I didn’t know how to start my game as black. Should I play something I know well or should I steer clear of theory and battle it out from an unorthodox opening? Well my problem was twofold. The opening defence I know best is the Sicilian. When I first considered openings I chose to learn the Ruy Lopez as white and the Sicilian as black. I did this because they are the most well known, popular and highly regarded openings. They are also complex and it is likely that a great player will have studied them. My alternative was to shoot from the hip but again a player with such a high rating was not going to be bad at tactics, calculation, and all the other technical aspects of the game. In the end I played the Sicilian. After 18 moves I resigned; a crumpled heap of intellect. My opponent very kindly went through the game with me. The moves to my move 10 were book moves and went:
what I should have played was 10. b5 then if 11. e5 I have the nasty Bb7 pining the queen to the rook but I had run out of book moves I knew (although I knew that b5 is often played as a counter-attacking pawn storm) and I couldn’t find the tactic leading to the pin. But we talked about this and looked at other moves later. We discussed the Sicilian; that it is complex and that perhaps the French opening (my second most common defence) leads to a less tricksy middle game. My opponent also said that I should be looking at castling long when g4 comes along and that the d5 square is very important in the Sicilian. So losing isn’t so bad. I’m sure that this one Sicilian game has taught me more about the Sicilian than hundreds of blitz Sicilians and hours of video lectures. Post Script: I found that my opponent also blogs about chess and he has written a great post called ‘The amazing Sicilian Najdorf’ on May 21st here: